"The architect's job is to give life a more sensitive structure," wrote architect Alvar Aalto in 1955. This is exactly what he did when he created this elegant trio of buildings, which draws devotees of his designs from all over the world.

The cultural complex, Lappla-Talo, Hallituskatu 11, was the last of Aalto's buildings to be completed here, having opened in 1975. The first building, the library, Kirjasto, Hallituskatu 7 (tel. 016/322-2463), opened in 1965. The house has a valuable Sami collection, and temporary art exhibitions are staged in its Lappinica Hall. Admission is free and it's open Monday to Thursday 11am to 8pm, Friday 11am to 5pm, and Saturday 11am to 3pm.

A third building, Kaupungintalo, Hallituskatu 7 (tel. 016/322-2288), is the most famous government building in northern Finland. Aalto completed it in 1988 as the finishing touch of the administrative and cultural center. This Town Hall consists of several divergent wings, and it's dominated by the council chamber, which evokes crystal because of its "folded" wall surfaces. The entrance wall of the hall is a distant echo of Aalto's famous theme of Northern Lights. Admission is free; the Town Hall is open Monday to Friday 8am to 4pm.